How are you? I am fine.

It was Wednesday and I was getting ready to pack up my computer and head out for a long lunch. No Riksha Chinese food or Gem of India for me today, though; rather, I would be spending my lunch at the dentist’s office so they could ascertain if my jaw was as screwed up as I feared. Despite having had my wisdom teeth out six days previously, I still had a decent amount of swelling and a lot of pain from my right temple down through the right side of my neck, and the constant muscle pain that accompanied this made focusing on work next to impossible.

I hadn’t slept well the night before… or any night since the surgery, really. I would wake up multiple times a night, take some more pain meds, and then dream fitfully about living underground, having won the lottery, or digging through a flea market. I hadn’t had any coffee in almost a week, and though I was pleased to have lost a little weight, I really wanted to drink a beer, eat a cheeseburger, and in general be able to consume something without a twinge of fear and miserableness.

Just as I was getting ready to leave, my phone rang. Krist from HR was on the other end and asked how I was. “I’m just fine,” I replied. “How are you?”

Generally, in Christian circles when we discuss this subject, we advocate honesty and openness. Why do we always lie when we feel like crap? How can we expect to build relationships when we never tell anyone anything about ourselves?

Obviously, this was at work, not church, but a campus community bears some similarities to a church. We spend way more time together than I do with the members of my church (which is a bit of a commentary on me, I suppose, though potentially extending to our society as well), and we’ve all got a common goal and passion. I’m generally honest with the people I work with, and would go so far as to say I have several friends through work who are very supportive.

But I didn’t say that I was miserable, in pain, and hungry because I was afraid to eat. I said I was fine, because that’s more professional.

I believe strongly that certain feelings and attitudes should be left at the door when you go to work, and my miserableness isn’t needed there. We’ve got a job to do, and I not only cannot let my feelings get in the way of that, but I can’t dump on other people and take up their time with my problems. They don’t deserve that.

But even beyond the professionalism-at-work scenario, I’m beginning to think more and more that we need to cultivate this attitude of positiveness in most every setting. To return to the church example, yes, I think we should be able to be honest and open there, but I also think it would be healthy to check some of the baggage at the door. If your issues are going to keep you from worshipping God, then you need to put them on the altar and stop worrying about them. Trust in Jesus and praise His name.

On the religious side, I’d encourage you to do this because God will take care of you and those problems will probably work themselves out through His faithfulness. There’s no sense in making ourselves sad and upset when we have such a loving God who takes care of us. When we refuse to trust in Him, we’re worse off and things tend to go poorly.

It’s obviously a tricky subject. I’ve advocated elsewhere that we need to trust people, be open, and allow them to serve us just as we want to serve others. We can’t do that if we’re not open. But I think there are a lot of petty grievances that we let ruin our day because we can’t just let them go, and that’s not healthy either. Some things are worth bringing up and sharing because they need to be dealt with, but my physical mouth pain wasn’t one of them.

So I said I was fine, because I was. And wouldn’t you know it, after visiting the dentist, everything was A-OK.

2 thoughts on “How are you? I am fine.

  1. I had two wisdom teeth removed and both dry socketed, so I’d been in a decent amount of pain. On this particular Wednesday, I went in and they cleaned the sockets out, popped some packing into them, and twenty minutes later I felt great. All the pain was gone.

    Since then, I’ve just had to keep them clean by way of a syringe with warm water to squirt down in there and lots of tooth brushing + Listerine. It seems to be healing well, so I’m hopeful that the day will come fairly soon when I won’t hurt so much.

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